Destination: Kualoa Regional Park
Focus: Beach Park, Bird Watching
Soundtrack for the drive: Lonely Island, Turtleneck & Chain (Few things make me smile more than Snoop Dogg rapping The fatter, the fluffier, the puffier, the bigger the turtleneck, the more gangster it is)
Quote of the Day: I got more chains than the Snow Patrol / Every one razor thin like an insect stripper pole ~ Lonely Island
If all of the birdwatchers in the world had to get together and come up with the single most important rule for birding it would probably be: Don’t bring your dogs. But I’m not a birdwatcher so I don’t care. They’re stretched out across the backseat of the Outback, just as psyched as I am for the drive up the stunning windward coast. This is a quick drive since I live in Kaneohe, but a beautiful one nonetheless.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Kualoa was once one of the most sacred spots on Oahu. Children of chiefs were raised here and it is thought to have been a refuge for taboo breakers and fallen warriors. The park is across the street from Kualoa Ranch, Oahu’s largest cattle ranch.
Just offshore is the islet called Mokoli’i (Little Lizard). Legend has it that Mokoli’i is the tail of a lizard spirit slain by a goddess and thrown into the ocean. The islet is also known as Chinaman’s Hat because of its cone shape and the flood of Chinese laborers who immigrated to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations. It kills me that people casually call it that without any semblance of political incorrectness.
Today I have my guide to Hawaii’s birds bookmarked at the marshland section and I’m heading specifically to the Moli’i and ‘Apua fishponds on the south side of the park. Both are believed to have been built by the ancient Menehune people, supposedly over the course of a single night. Kualoa Ranch offers guided tours but my nonexistent entertainment budget dictates that I explore this area on my own.
A quick flip through my closet will prove how much I love birds in print form, but I really don’t know anything about the different species or how they live. Plus it drives me crazy that they’re always flying away. Let’s be honest, bird watching takes a certain level of patience that I simply do not possess. Sitting for hours with binoculars in hand, waiting, hoping to catch just a glimpse of something you know is immediately going to fly the coop, something you can never touch or cuddle or squeeze… yah that’s the kind of thing that would put me over the edge.
And that’s why ‘Apua pond perfect for me. Sans binoculars and without even trying I’ve already seen a number of birds easily identified by my guidebook. Black-necked Stilts (Ae’o), Long-billed Dowitchers, Cattle Egrets, Mynas, Red-crested Cardinals and a bunch of tiny little things that look like brown sparrows. Life lesson #472: Imagine what I would see if I just had a little more patience!
Most of the pond is kept safe by a thick set of mangroves. I’m not sure if there’s any access to it for humans or if it’s an off-limits sanctuary. I’m camped out on a wall surrounding the northern edge taking in the quiet and the view. The dogs are below me lying in the grass, sniffing at the salty sea air. It’s so peaceful in there. I wish I had a little rowboat and could paddle out to the middle and just sit for a while, maybe read my Tao Te Ching.
The surf is mellow, probably a decent place for swimming except for the jellyfish that plague the windward coast in summer. I’ve heard that at certain times you can walk all the way out to Mokoli’i. But my first week here I read in the news that two Marines drowned attempting just that. There’s really no chance of me ever giving it a try.
I have no need for oceanic explorations yet. There’s plenty to keep me busy on land so I don’t mind letting my fear of the ocean stand for a while longer. Besides, this guy Sefa told me I just haven’t gone in with the right company yet. I think he’s right. Some day I will find someone who will help me stress out less, someone who will get me to loosen up and wear a Halloween costume, someone who will promise not to let go of my hand if I jump off a cliff into the ocean with him. But for whatever reason, I’m not there yet.
For now I’m quite happy to sit on this wall observing these birds and the peace of this little pond world.
Lesson remembered: I really do love waking up early and making the most of a morning before school and work.